Sunday Dinner: Pot Roast

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Funny. See, I meant to take photos of Sunday’s pot roast. I really did. I ran into a little problem. (Here come the excuses.) The battery in my camera was dead and apparently some moron didn’t seat the backup battery correctly in the charger. This is the same moron who let his iPhone battery go dead on Sunday as well.

So, no photos of the preparation process. Or the end result. Or anything really. The best I have is the map of the cow to illustrate where a chuck roast comes from:

I had planned to use The Silver Palate as the basis for my Sunday pot roast, until I read Albert Burneko’s post at Deadspin, the Gawker-owned sports site known best for its breaking stories about fake dead girlfriends and penis photos of the stars. There’s a culinary consciousness to the site. My chili recipe is based on Drew Magary‘s version, which may be one of the most searched for chili recipes on the web. Burneko’s Foodspin feature is a very readable and somewhat informative recurrent on the site. Anyhow, his point is that pot roast is easy and very good because you rely on fatty beef, wine and a long, slow cooking process to make everything work. The most labor intensive part of prepping this should be peeling the carrots, which sucks but beats paying twice as much for the peeled/cut/bagged variety.

WHAT WORKED: Time. 15 minutes of searing plus 10 or so minutes of rest plus 6 hours in the oven equals a product that requires no knife.

WHAT DIDN’T: The camera.

WHAT DID THE GUESTS SAY: The Wife raved. The guests were complementary. Their sons couldn’t get enough, particularly the 18-month-old who may have devoured all of the carrots.

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Pot roast? Yes. This recipe? Who knows. I’ll switch the wine or use fresh tomatoes or maybe skip the roux and serve it au jus. That’s the beauty of pot roast. It doesn’t matter. Cheap, fatty beef cooked in wine and stock will always win the day.

Pot Roast (Made Up As I Went Along)
By Jared Paventi

  • 3 1/2 to 4 lbs. top round or chuck roast, tied and patted dry with paper towels
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper, freshly ground if possible
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. canola oil
  • one bunch of carrots, peeled, stems and tips removed and no longer than 3 to 4 inches long
  • 1 to 1 1/2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes
  • 12 shallots (or two medium cooking onions), peeled
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bottle of dry, full-bodied, cheaper red wine (I opted for a $7 bottle of Gnarly Head malbec)
  • 16 oz. beef stock (not broth)
  • 24-28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • one bunch each of rosemary, thyme and flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 oz. flour
  • 3 oz. butter

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Liberally coat all sides of the chuck roast with kosher salt and black pepper. It is not possible to use too much of either. Before you turn the roast to coat the next side, use the palm of your hand to press the seasoning into the meat. In a Dutch oven or braising pan, heat canola or other vegetable oil (not olive…you want a heavy duty oil that doesn’t smoke easily) until it shimmers. Add the meat to the pan and sear each side until it develops a rich brown color, about five minutes each side. Using a pair of tongs, transfer the meat to a dish and set aside.

Add the wine and stock and deglaze the pan (BE CAREFUL not to burn yourself on the steam that will rise from the pan.). Use a large wooden spoon to scrape any stuck-on bits from the pan. Lower the heat to medium-high and add the potatoes and carrots. Return to a boil, add the shallots, garlic and tomatoes and stir to combine.

Take a couple of pieces of kitchen twine and tie the rosemary, thyme and parsley together into a bouquet. Add to the pan. Return the roast to the pan, cover, and transfer to the oven. Cook 5 to 6 hours.

Remove the pan from the oven and carefully transfer the roast to your serving bowl (the meat will have shrunk and will fall apart so use a couple of large serving spoons to complete the move). Take a slotted spoon and transfer the vegetables to the serving bowl, so that only liquid remains in the pan. Set the pan on a burner at medium heat.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly with a wooden spoon to make a roux. When the roux turns the color of a paper grocery store bag, transfer to the braising pan and whisk into the liquid. Let the liquid in the pan reach a boil, then carefully pour over the meat and vegetables. Serve hot.

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